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Rep. Andy Harris: Biden amnesty agenda drives record illegal border crossings, endangers Maryland | COMMENTARY

On March 16, President Joe Biden’s Secretary of Homeland Security said, “we are on pace to encounter more individuals on the southwest border than we have in the last 20 years.” This crisis is no coincidence — it is a product of the disastrous Biden-Pelosi-Schumer open border amnesty agenda.

Make no mistake, regardless of how congressional Democrats and the Biden administration try to spin it, this is a disaster. Why else would they deploy the Federal Emergency Management Agency in a transparent attempt to paper over their failed policies? The number of illegal border crossers apprehended by Customs and Border Protection agents has eclipsed 100,000 in a single month, more than double compared to this time last year.

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The historic level of mass illegal border crossings provide perfect cover for violent criminals, gangs, drug cartels, human smugglers and even terrorists seeking to exploit our border insecurity and sneak into our communities. Coupled with lawless sanctuary policies in states like Maryland that shield undocumented immigrants from federal removal, you have a recipe for trouble.

Unfortunately, these cold realities will not stop the Biden-Pelosi-Schumer amnesty agenda. Their unwavering pursuit of amnesty, opposition to border security and weakening of the legal immigration system will have devastating effects. We’re already seeing it. While millions of Americans remain under strict COVID-19 lockdowns, thousands of individuals, some with COVID-19, roam freely across our border and into our country every day. This flood of mostly low-wage workers will compete with Americans for jobs.

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As a son of immigrants, I supported President Donald Trump’s border security policies which allowed legal immigration but were very effective in dissuading individuals from illegally migrating north.

But our current policy of not enforcing our immigration laws will only encourage more of the violence we see ravaging sanctuary jurisdictions harboring undocumented immigrants and shielding them from federal removal. Some of these undocumented immigrants are involved in MS-13, the notoriously brutal gang responsible for, among other recent murders, that of a young man in Baltimore County with a machete, and a teenage girl in Prince George’s County with a machete and baseball bat. That’s why I’m proud to co-sponsor the No Tax Breaks for Sanctuary Cities Act, which would remove the federal tax exempt status of municipal bonds issued by sanctuary jurisdictions like Maryland unless they once again enforce immigration law.

Rather than focus on real ways to regain control of our borders like building the wall, eliminating sanctuary policies, abandoning efforts to defund (or even abolish) the police, or publicly stating people need to wait their turn and go through our lawful immigration process, House Democrats recently doubled down on their open border amnesty agenda in Congress. These bills will only exacerbate, not solve, the problems we face at our borders.

First, the Farm Workforce Modernization Act would allow undocumented immigrants to apply for renewable five-year visas as long as they can prove that have been illegally working in the agricultural sector for a mere 180 days over two years. Their spouse and children would also eventually be eligible. It would also create a path to permanent legal status, which would allow them to eventually leave the agricultural sector and compete for any American job.

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The second bill passed March 18, the American Dream and Promise Act, would confer a special pathway to citizenship to “Dreamers,” those undocumented immigrants who entered the U.S. before their 19th birthday. The bill would also make eligible for legal status those convicted of some crimes and gang members, as well as create a taxpayer-funded grant program to help these undocumented immigrants navigate the application process. These bills would reward those who broke the law, put them in front of the line ahead of those who are waiting years for legal entry, undercut the legal labor force, and fail to address the root causes of migration — thereby encouraging more to come along for the ride in the future.

America as a generous nation accepts 1 million legal immigrants every year. As the proud son of immigrants who fled the brutal Soviet regime to come legally to America, I fully support lawful immigration and believe it is crucial to the future success of our country. But as a nation of laws, we must respect those immigrants who patiently await their turn in line to become productive and lawful members of our nation. I welcome them with open arms and call upon the Biden Administration to get serious about protecting our border and abandon their amnesty agenda for undocumented immigrants today.

Andy Harris is a Republican representing Maryland’s 1st Congressional District in the House of Representatives and serves on the Committee on Appropriations.

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